Unvaccinated individuals should not to travel during the Labor Day weekend, according to the head of the CDC. During a White House briefing, Dr. Rochelle Walensky said the surge of the COVID-19 delta variant across the country made those who have not yet received the vaccine particularly vulnerable.
“Given where we are with disease transmission right now, we would say that people need to take their own these risks into their own consideration as they think about traveling,” Walensky said. “If you are unvaccinated, we would recommend not traveling.”
However, Walensky added, current CDC guidance allows people who are fully vaccinated and wear masks to travel. The rise of the delta variant has prompted health authorities to extend the mask mandate for travelers – including those who are vaccinated – into 2022, according to the Transportation Security Administration.
The US has seen a surge in hospitalizations in recent weeks, with states like Washington, Mississippi and Florida hitting record levels of new COVID-19 cases. CDC data show the current seven-day average of new infections in the US is down 10 percent from the prior week’s seven-day average, and hospitalizations have decreased 5 percent, Walensky said.
Confirmed COVID deaths have risen by just 2.3 percent over the previous week to a seven-day average of 896 deaths per day, she said.
The Labor Day weekend, Walensky suggested, would be a good time to get together outside with other vaccinated family members. “Throughout the pandemic, we have seen that the vast majority of transmission takes place among unvaccinated people in closed indoor settings,” she added. When indoors, the CDC still recommends masking up, especially when in public, to help prevent transmission.
The Labor Day weekend is a traditional peak time for leisure travel, noted Tori Emerson Barnes, executive vice president of public affairs and policy at US Travel.
“The CDC recommendation to unvaccinated individuals is a further reminder that vaccination is the fastest path to normalcy for all, including for widespread travel,” Barnes said in a statement. “The vaccines have proven safe and highly effective, and now with full FDA approval, there is no reason why anyone should further delay getting a shot. Accordingly, the CDC says vaccinated Americans who adhere to mask usage can continue to travel.”